|Publication number||US7064655 B2|
|Application number||US 10/827,044|
|Publication date||Jun 20, 2006|
|Filing date||Apr 19, 2004|
|Priority date||Dec 31, 2003|
|Also published as||CN1910805A, CN1910805B, EP1700368A1, US20050140503, WO2005069464A1|
|Publication number||10827044, 827044, US 7064655 B2, US 7064655B2, US-B2-7064655, US7064655 B2, US7064655B2|
|Inventors||Matthew J. Murray, Michael Townsend, Chris Eaton, Gregory S. Patterson|
|Original Assignee||Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ab|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (8), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (61), Classifications (11), Legal Events (6)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) from U.S. Application Ser. No. 60/533,644 filed on Dec. 31, 2003, which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates generally to tactile generators, and particularly to tactile generators in wireless communications devices.
Tactile generators produce vibration by rotating an unbalanced load with a motor. The amount of vibration produced in a given tactile generator is a function of the mass of the unbalanced load, the distance of the center of mass of the load from a rotational axis, and the speed at which it rotates. In conventional devices, these parameters are often fixed by the manufacturer and cannot be changed. As a result, the amount of vibration that can be imparted by conventional devices is also fixed.
Further, in conventional devices, the center of mass of the load resides at a fixed distance from the rotational axis, and as such, typically requires a fixed amount of current to start the load rotating. This starting current is substantially greater than the corresponding operating current for a given motor design. However, a device that is unable to draw the requisite amount of starting current will be unable to rotate the load to produce vibration. Accordingly, what is needed is a device that can produce varying amounts of vibration and is capable of operating on reduced starting current loads.
The present invention provides a tactile generator comprising an eccentric mass that imparts varying levels of vibration as it rotates about an axis. In one embodiment, an electric motor rotates the mass about the axis. The mass is radially movable with respect to the axis such that the distance between the mass and the axis is variable. Varying the distance of the mass from the axis varies the amount of vibration generated when the mass is rotated. The amount of vibration produced by the rotating mass, is dependent on the rotational speed of the mass, and the distance from the center of mass from the axis of rotation.
The present invention may be embodied, for example, in a wireless communications device comprising a transceiver coupled to an antenna, and a controller that generates a control signal indicative of a measured ambient noise level. The tactile generator is responsive to the control signal, and produces a variable vibration by varying the distance of the mass from the axis.
Referring now to
Motor 12 comprises an electric motor that couples to a printed circuit board (not shown), and may be a variable speed motor. Motor 12 can be controlled to draw varying levels of current from the power source, thereby rotating the output shaft 14 at various speeds. As will be described later in more detail, this varying amount of rotational speed can be transcribed into varying levels of vibration sensed by the user.
Output shaft 14 is connected to one end of motor 12, and extends longitudinally from motor 12. When motor 12 is energized, it rotates output shaft 14 about a longitudinal axis 24. The rotational speed of output shaft 14 depends upon, and is proportional to, the current drawn by motor 12. For example, the more current that is drawn by motor 12, the faster output shaft 14 will rotate about axis 24.
Mass 16 comprises a weight having a slot 15 that inserts onto output shaft 14. The rotation of output shaft 14 about axis 24 causes mass 16 to rotate eccentrically about axis 24. Because motor 12 may operate at various speeds, mass 16 may likewise rotate at various speeds about axis 24. Mass 16 is preferably shaped or weighted to purposefully provide an unbalanced load when rotated by output shaft 14, which the user senses as vibration.
Biasing member 18 is disposed in slot 15 between the output shaft 14 and an interior surface of mass 16. As shown in
Therefore, the distance of the mass 16 from the axis 24 of rotation is dependent on the rotational speed of output shaft 14. That is, the faster that shaft 14 rotates, the farther mass 16 moves radially outward from axis 24. Conversely, the slower that shaft 14 rotates the closer mass 16 moves radially inward towards axis 24. Thus, biasing member 18 permits mass 16 to achieve various positions during rotation, which translates into varying amounts of vibration.
The present invention enables the use of smaller, less expensive motors as compared to conventional devices. In conventional vibrators with a fixed mass, the motor must provide sufficient torque to overcome the inertia of the mass. In general, the torque required to start rotation of the mass will be much greater than the torque required to keep it rotating. Further, the torque required will be dependent on the distance of the mass from the axis of rotation. Using the present invention, the mass 16 is urged close to the rotational axis 24 by the biasing member 18 when the motor 12 begins rotating. Thus, less torque is required to begin rotation of the mass 16 and consequently, a smaller, less expensive motor can be used.
Additionally, because conventional devices pre-position the mass at a fixed distance from the axis of rotation, they are only able to produce one level of vibration. In the present invention, the position of mass 16 varies with respect to output shaft 14 thereby permitting vibratory output over a range of vibration levels. That is, the level of vibration imparted by the present invention varies with the distance of mass 16 from axis 24.
In an alternate embodiment shown in
The embodiment of
Generally, the embodiment of
As seen in
However, unlike conventional wireless communications devices, device 30 includes circuitry that permits autonomous control of tactile generator 10. More particularly, controller 42, which may comprise a microprocessor or the like, controls the amount of vibration produced by tactile generator 10. In one embodiment, controller 42 controls the rotational speed of motor 12, and thus, the position of mass 16, by generating control signals based on a detected level of ambient noise.
Generally, higher levels of vibration produce higher levels of acoustic noise. Thus, conventional vibrating devices produce an amount of acoustic noise that corresponds to their fixed level of vibration. However, this level of noise may still be unacceptable in some situations. Therefore, the present invention produces a vibration level that is optimized for the detected level of ambient noise. This keeps the generated acoustic noise to a minimum while still permitting the user to feel the vibration.
One method 50 of optimizing vibration according to the detected level of ambient noise is shown in
As previously stated, mass 16 moves radially outward from axis 24, which tends to decrease the rotational speed of mass 16. The control signals generated by controller 42 could be used to counter this tendency, and thus, substantially maintain a desired rotational speed of mass 16. For example, tactile generator 10 could periodically determine the rotational speed of mass 16 by using internal circuitry to measure the torque applied to output shaft 14. In another example, tactile generator 10 could use an internal sensor to periodically measure the actual distance of mass 16 from output shaft 16 or axis 24. Tactile generator 10 might then provide a signal indicative of the measured rotational speed of mass 16 to controller 42, which could use the information to calculate the rotational speed of mass 16. Based on this calculation, controller 42 could increase, decrease, or maintain the voltage/current level supplied to motor 12 to affect the rotational speed of mass 16.
Further, the present invention might provide various levels of vibration responsive to ambient noise levels in situations other than when device 30 receives an incoming call. For example, tactile generator 10 of the present invention may be configured to produce multiple levels of vibration for various games or levels of play in games, receipt of alerts, pages, and alarms.
Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that tactile generator 10 may in fact be used in other communication devices not explicitly shown in the Figures, as well as in other devices such as game controllers. Additionally, the biasing member 18 is not limited to the springs or electromagnetic enclosure 29 shown in the Figures. Rather, biasing member 18 may also comprise compressive foams or the like.
It should be understood that the present invention also contemplates other types of vibration motors other than those specifically shown here. For example, the present invention may be embodied as a pancake vibrator. Pancake vibrators are flat, pancake-shaped disks driven to rotate eccentrically about an axis of rotation. These types of vibrators can be adapted to include the movable mass 16 along the plane of the disk. Mass 16 would be biased towards the axis of rotation by biasing member 18, but would permit mass 16 to move or slide away from the axis of rotation when the disk rotates. As in the previous embodiments, varying the rotational speed of the disk and motor current would produce varying levels of vibration. These types of vibrators could be used, for example, to produce tactile output in game controllers, pagers, and communication devices.
Additionally, the radial movement of mass 16 with respect to axis (24) is not solely dependent upon the rotational speed of mass 16. In fact, mass 16 may move independently of the rotational speed of mass 16. For example, alternate embodiments of the present invention contemplate the use of a servo-motor or solenoid that moves the mass 16 outwardly and inwardly responsive to control signals generated by controller 42, for example.
The present invention may, of course, be carried out in other ways than those specifically set forth herein without departing from essential characteristics of the invention. The present embodiments are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.
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|U.S. Classification||340/407.1, 340/679, 340/683, 340/686.3|
|International Classification||H02K7/06, H04B3/36, B06B1/16|
|Cooperative Classification||B06B1/162, H02K7/061|
|European Classification||B06B1/16B2, H02K7/06B|
|Apr 17, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SONY ERICSSON MOBILE COMMUNICATION AB, SWEDEN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MURRAY, MATTHEW J.;TOWNSEND, MICHAEL;EATON, CHRIS;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015236/0952;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040414 TO 20040416
|Jun 22, 2009||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Nov 21, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Oct 15, 2015||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SONY MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS AB, SWEDEN
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SONY ERICSSON MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS AB;REEL/FRAME:036868/0084
Effective date: 20010906
|Nov 13, 2015||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SNAPTRACK, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SONY MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS INC.;REEL/FRAME:037109/0913
Effective date: 20151026
|Nov 23, 2015||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SONY MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS AB, SWEDEN
Free format text: CORRECTIVE ASSIGNMENT TO CORRECT THE EXECUTION DATE PREVIOUSLY RECORDED AT REEL: 036868 FRAME: 0084. ASSIGNOR(S) HEREBY CONFIRMS THE CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SONY ERICSSON MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS AB;REEL/FRAME:037207/0572
Effective date: 20120221